Our night inside UK's first legal red light district where self-styled 'Ripper' prowls & school girls are stalked home

Our night inside UK's first legal red light district where self-styled 'Ripper' prowls & school girls are stalked home

A MAN calling himself the 'Yorkshire Ripper' is on the prowl for young prostitutes in Britain’s first legal red light district, Sun Online can reveal.

The predator regularly boasts about his love of unprotected sex, his preference for teenage girls and how he likes bad weather as it is easier to lure women into his car.

Disturbingly, he uses the ‘yorkshireripper’ moniker, referring to serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, while bragging about his exploits online.

News of the man's activity comes just days after the real Sutcliffe, who stalked and killed prostitutes in northern cities including Leeds in the 1970s, died from coronavirus aged 74.

It also follows warnings by community leaders in the Holbeck area of Leeds that schoolchildren are being put at risk from the large number of predators being lured into their area.

Visiting the red light district last week, Sun Online found the 'Managed Approach' zone was still frequented by a number of prostitutes, pimps and drug dealers despite the strict coronavirus lockdown.

Fed-up residents told us how they have witnessed sexual activity outside their homes and have even been forced to move away, with one former schoolgirl revealing how she was left "shaking" after a vile pest grabbed her on the street.

Sicko 'scouting' for sex workers

In one post, the self-styled Ripper says: “Went for a little scouting mission myself last night, first time in a few months due to reports of increased surveillance by anti wh*** brigade.

“Was a cold, wet and rainy night which is my favourite time as it seems gives you that extra cover of visibility and offers a quick respite from the cold as an incentive to the girls when your (sic) knocking down the price.”

The perv writes about his ‘punting’ activities on a notorious website where men rate prostitutes like they are using hotels on Tripadvisor.

A number of posts describe sleeping with girls with no condom while one disturbing entry states: “I was seeking teenagers or under 25s.”

His last post was in September this year.

The so-called Managed Approach pilot was created by Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police in October 2014 and locals say that since then there has been a huge spike in soliciting, drug dealing, human trafficking and knife crime as well as rapes and attempted abductions.

The scheme, which costs £200,000 a year to run, allows prostitutes and their customers to operate without fear of arrest on certain roads between 8pm and 6am and officials hoped it would contain the problem and allow the street workers to get help.

It was supposed to be suspended during the current lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but our probe has found it is continuing unabated, with the police apparently powerless to halt the monster they have unleashed.

Prostitutes and pimps spill into sleepy streets

When the Sun visited last week, we found half a dozen prostitutes loitering in the sodium gloom while a handful of burly pimps could be seen patrolling the neighbourhood as they monitored the girls.

At one point a frail woman approached our car and leaned down towards the passenger window, croaking: “Hi love, are you looking for any business?”

The zone was clearly spilling out into residential areas. Next to one house we were approached by a tall prostitute wearing an unbuttoned shirt and exposed bra.

When we turned down her offer of business she breezily replied: “Sorry about that, you must get it all the time living here!”

Menacing drug dealers could be seen standing on street corners and we witnessed one tracksuit-clad man openly selling the synthetic cannabis dubbed Spice, which can trigger psychotic episodes, outside a high street shop.

Our reporting was brought to a sudden end when our photographer had his tyres slashed as we pulled over briefly – a terrifying reminder of the dangers of the zone.

'Grave concerns' over schoolgirl abductions

Ben Mallinson, principal of Ruth Gorse Academy, says that more than 100 of his pupils have to walk a daily gauntlet of vice on their way to school and he worries a child will be killed if the zone remains in place.  

“It’s not right for young people to be experiencing this," he says. "There is drugs paraphernalia and sex litter like discarded condoms – and even though there is supposed to be street cleaning it doesn’t work.

“In excess of 100 children, some as young as 11, have to walk through the Managed Approach area, which is right next to residential streets so inevitably the sex workers use local shops and it spills over.

“The Managed Approach is an appalling example of healthy human relationships and goes against everything we are trying to teach here.

“My question is, why have they put the zone here?

“I think the council needs to go back to the drawing board. There is nothing to suggest the Managed Approach has stopped during this second lockdown.

“We’ve had cases where a student has been grabbed by a stranger and whilst the zone continues to exist there will always be that element of risk

“We’ve had cases where a student has been grabbed by a stranger and whilst the zone continues to exist there will always be that element of risk.

“I have grave concerns that if it continues there will be more attempted abductions and it does play on your mind while this is on our doorstep.

“We have pupils that are scared to go to their local park because it is not safe.”

Left 'shaking and crying' by vile stalker

Asked about the Ripper’s post, Ben added: “We hear reports of men coming from Manchester, Hull and all over the Pennines because the zone is right next to the motorway.

“We don’t know who is coming in and out of the area and there is no control.”

Student Jessica Walton is one of a number of young women who have had terrifying experiences since the red light zone started.

The Holbeck resident was just 15 years old and wearing her school uniform when a suspected paedophile followed her home.

Jessica, now 21, said: “This was in 2014 just after the Managed Approach was created.

“I had just got off the bus at around 3.30pm when a man in his 40s started trying to stop me to talk.  

“He was right behind me and being really aggressive, grabbing my arm and asking over and over again, ‘Where are you going? What are you doing?’

“He followed me all the way to the top of my road then stood staring as I ran through the front door.

"I was shaking and crying by the time I got home. I reported it to the police but they couldn’t find the man.”

Polish prostitute Daria Pionko, 21, was murdered three days before Christmas in 2015, a year after the zone was introduced.

Heavy goods driver Lewis Pierre, 24, was convicted of kicking her to death – but that did not bring an end to the experiment.

'There's not a man round here that hasn't been "pulled"'

In the morning after our visit, used condoms, torn condom packets and stained wet wipes apparently used by prostitutes to clean themselves could be seen littering the ground. 

Julie Busuttil, 63, lives in Holbeck with her husband Charles, 74, and says she is sick and tired of having a red light district on her doorstep.

She said: “There have been three stabbings in the past year and we see drug drops and women approaching cars all the time.

“There is not a man round here that hasn’t been ‘pulled,’ which means offered business.

“I once saw a girl and her client having sex in the front of a van.

“I called the police and they later told me they spoke to the ‘couple’ and they weren’t doing anything wrong.”

Spice-fuelled nightmare

Mum-of-one Claire Bentley-Smith lives in nearby Beeston, a mile from the Managed Zone, but has decided to move rather than let her 11-year-old son witness any more horror.  

In 2017, she was one of a number of residents who formed the Save Our Eyes group which the self-styled Ripper refers to in his posts as the ‘anti wh*** brigade.’

Its members have taken to photographing punters and posting the pictures online, but with the number of girls working the streets rising from 35 to 140, according to the most recent report, she has lost all hope it will end.

The commercial artist, 46, said: “Something happened a few years ago that made the Managed Zone much worse.

"I think it was when the girls started taking Spice and that made them more desperate and pushed them on to the street 24 hours a day.

“You can see girls staggering through traffic at 8am trying to flag down cars. Spice turns them into zombies, they look like there’s nothing there.

“The increase of girls has attracted more punters and you get curb crawled all the time if you live here – you have to be careful what you wear in the summer.

“We know that a number of the women are trafficked from overseas and they don’t seem to have any money as we see them rooting through bins for fag ends.

“It’s really sad and I fear that in creating the Managed Zone, the council has embedded a monster.

"Holbeck is now a byword for prostitution and even if they cancel it, I don’t think the problem will ever go away.”

'Leeds approach as comprehensive as any'

Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member with responsibility for Safer Leeds, says safeguarding is the authority's highest priority.

“I would urge anyone who witnesses any form of indecency or unacceptable behaviour to please contact the police or Safer Leeds partnership immediately so a full and thorough investigation can be undertaken," Cllr Coupar says.

"Along with the police, a designated Safer Leeds team also patrols the area of the Managed Approach and we will always take appropriate and firm action against any individuals involved in unacceptable behaviour.

"No incidents that are reported will ever be ignored.”

West Yorkshire Police also says its efforts around sex work in Leeds are focused on offences that have a negative impact on the community and those that pose safeguarding risks.

No incidents that are reported will ever be ignored

"Since the introduction of the Managed Approach, there has been a significant increase and focus on enforcement action," says Leeds District Commander, Chief Superintendent Damien Miller.

"Investigations and action has taken place in respect of males who coerce women into to sex work or who are involved in the control of sex workers.

"Through partnership working we work to tackle organised crime or any concerns in relation to human trafficking offences."

Chf Supt Miller added: "The activity in the Managed Approach takes place seven days a week with resources dedicated to tackling this issue.

"Both the partnerships research and the research undertaken as part of the Independent Review confirms the Leeds approach is as comprehensive as any response to sex work in the UK.”

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